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Iraq

Security Council May Close Iraq Inspection Unit

Paul Kerr

The United States and other permanent members of the UN Security Council are drafting a resolution that would officially terminate the mission of UN inspectors tasked with verifying and monitoring Iraq’s disarmament, Ben Chang, a spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, told Arms Control Today May 22.

Speaking to reporters May 15, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, did not mention a resolution but did say that “the time has come to move to bring this to a close appropriately. And I believe that there is an emerging consensus to do that.”

The United States is working with the United Kingdom and other council members on a resolution, Chang said, adding that the process “is taking a while because there is a lot of complexity” surrounding the issue.

For example, numerous Security Council resolutions governing the question of Iraq’s disarmament remain in effect. Ewen Buchanan, a spokesperson for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), pointed out in a May 21 interview with Arms Control Today that these resolutions contain restrictions, such as a prohibition on Iraqi missiles with ranges exceeding 150 kilometers, that the council must address.

Both U.S. and UNMOVIC officials explained that the Security Council also needs to decide the fate of the commission’s archives, which contain proliferation-sensitive material that could aid other countries in developing nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.

After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the UN Security Council tasked the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), UNMOVIC’s predecessor, with verifying and supervising the destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles exceeding UN-permitted ranges. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were charged with verifying and supervising the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. The UN withdrew the inspectors in December 1998, but they returned in November 2002 with Iraq’s consent. (See ACT, December 2002.)

The UN inspectors found no evidence that Iraq was pursuing illicit weapons programs but still had some unanswered questions about the country’s past weapons programs.

The inspectors left Iraq just before the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion. Since then, UNMOVIC, which includes staff in New York and teams of inspectors from UN member states, has remained on standby and has not been able to conduct in-country inspections.

At least one Security Council member still remains skeptical of the resolution. Russian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Yakovenko charged that a draft resolution “breaches established [Security Council] regulations,” according to a May 11 press account.

Yakovenko also stated that UNMOVIC and the IAEA should present a report to the council “on the state of affairs connected to disarmament programs in Iraq.” Acknowledging that neither organization is “in a position to do this on their own,” he suggested that the United States “officially present to the UN the findings of its own search teams.”

A U.S.-led postinvasion investigation found that Iraq did not have prohibited weapons programs. But the United States has never briefed the UN on the investigation’s classified findings, Buchanan said.

Yakovenko also argued that the problem of Iraqi illicit weapons “has acquired added acuity” because of the lack of security at Iraqi facilities that could be used to produce such weapons.

For its part, Iraq would like UNMOVIC’s mission to end. In an April 24 letter to the Security Council, Iraqi Foreign Minster Hoshyar Zebari reiterated Baghdad’s past requests that the council “terminate the mandate” of the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors. Zebari argued that their mission is no longer relevant because “there are no longer any legal or technical grounds for continuing their mandate” and because Iraq no longer has prohibited weapons or related programs.

Zebari’s letter also described several steps that Iraq has taken to provide assurance that it is not pursuing such weapons, including drafting a law that would permit Iraq to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Iraq declared in 2004 that it would accede to the convention. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

He also wrote that “preparations are underway” for Iraq to ratify an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. Such agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, allow the agency to monitor non-nuclear-weapon states-parties’ declared nuclear activities. An additional protocol augments the agency’s ability to discover undeclared nuclear activities.

The United States and other permanent members of the UN Security Council are drafting a resolution that would officially terminate the mission of UN inspectors tasked with verifying and monitoring Iraq’s disarmament, Ben Chang, a spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, told Arms Control Today May 22.

Speaking to reporters May 15, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, did not mention a resolution but did say that “the time has come to move to bring this to a close appropriately. And I believe that there is an emerging consensus to do that.” (Continue)

Problems With Iraq, Weapons Persist

Paul Kerr

The United States has lost track of thousands of weapons provided to Iraqi troops, according to an Oct. 28 report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Several days later, the office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte suspended public access to a website containing information from captured Iraqi documents apparently relevant to building unconventional weapons.

The report is the result of an audit of “the type, quantity, and quality” of weapons purchased for the Iraqi Security Forces by the U.S. Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF). The audit was conducted at the request of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and came well more than three years after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

According to the report, approximately 370,000 weapons costing about $133 million have been purchased with IRRF funds since November 2003. Twelve types of small arms were purchased, including machine guns, grenade launchers, and assault rifles.

The Multi-National Security Force Transition Command-Iraq could not account for 751 assault rifles, 13,180 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols, and 99 machine guns, the report says, posing concerns about the “physical security” of the weapons.

Moreover, the United States may not be able to keep track of the remaining weapons because the command failed to register their serial numbers. Approximately 10,000 weapons, or less than 3 percent of the total provided, were registered, according to the report.

Although the command has said it will take steps to remedy the situation, the report argues that those efforts are inadequate.

For example, the command’s response to the report says that it has developed a system “to maintain accountability” of the weapons. However, SIGIR criticized this procedure, arguing that it is inadequate because the weapons are not registered until after they arrive in Iraq and are distributed to the Iraqi forces. “Without first determining how many weapons were in fact purchased and received…there is no assurance full accountability is established for all weapons,” the report says.

Additionally, the command rejected the report’s recommendation that it register serial numbers with the Department of Defense’s Small Arms Serialization Program, stating that it is meeting “the intent” of the report’s recommendation by establishing its own registry. However, the report states that the command is required to register the weapons with the program.

Sensitive Iraqi WMD Information Leaked

Meanwhile, concerns arose in November that Negroponte’s office may have posted information relevant to developing unconventional weapons.

The director of public affairs for the DNI, Chad Kolton, said in a Nov. 2 statement that the office has “suspended access to a web site containing captured Saddam [Hussein-]era Iraqi documents pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.” The office will review the material “before the site becomes available again,” he added.

This action followed a New York Times report that the documents contained information that could potentially assist the efforts of other states or nonstate actors to develop nuclear weapons. An IAEA official told Arms Control Today Nov. 22 that agency inspectors “had expressed concern internally about the site,” but the agency had not yet warned the United States before the Times article was published.

This is not the first time that the office has removed documents from the site in response to proliferation concerns. Demetrius Perricos, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), expressed concern to U.S. officials in April about a document that contained information about Iraq’s chemical weapons program.

Asked about the Times article, UNMOVIC spokesperson Ewen Buchanan said in a Nov. 21 interview that the file “contains various ‘recipes’ and ‘cookbooks’ [for making chemical weapons] which we thought should not be made public,” adding that it was removed about a week later.

The document was the same as one that Iraq had provided UNMOVIC in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions adopted after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The DNI’s office had begun releasing the documents March 16. At the time, Negroponte cautioned that the government “has made no determination regarding” the documents’ accuracy or authenticity. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The documents were posted at the urging of several legislators, including House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). Hoekstra has said that there are unanswered questions about the fate of Iraq’s illicit weapons.

Several official studies have concluded that Iraq did not have illicit weapons. No official evidence has emerged that information contained in the documents contradicts those findings.

The United States has lost track of thousands of weapons provided to Iraqi troops, according to an Oct. 28 report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Several days later, the office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Negroponte suspended public access to a website containing information from captured Iraqi documents apparently relevant to building unconventional weapons. (Continue)

Senate Intel Panel Releases Two Iraq Reports

Paul Kerr

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released two reports Sept. 8 as part of the second phase of its inquiry into pre-war U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq’s suspected chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

One report compares pre-war U.S. intelligence assessments with information gathered following the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The other report evaluates the intelligence community’s use of information obtained from individuals associated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a group comprised of Iraqi exiles who opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The first report reaches similar conclusions to those of a previous official U.S. government postinvasion investigation conducted by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for Iraqi prohibited weapons. The ISG had already debunked Bush administration officials’ pre-war claims that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and had an active nuclear weapons program. (See ACT, December 2005.)

The intelligence community continues to review documents seized in Iraq. But a 2006 CIA retrospective, newly revealed in the intelligence committee report, states that such efforts are unlikely to yield new evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Noting that there “comes a point where the absence of evidence does indeed become the evidence of absence,” the CIA report adds that investigators “should have found at least some incidental reporting or references” if Baghdad had conducted “concealment and deception operations…to the scale necessary.”

In July 2004, the intelligence panel completed the investigation’s first phase, comparing the intelligence community’s pre-war assessments with the supporting pre-invasion intelligence. (See ACT, September 2004.) The second phase of the investigation is supposed to include an examination of Bush administration officials’ acquisition and use of intelligence, but it has been mired in partisan controversy. It began in June 2003 but has yet to be completed, despite repeated pledges from committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). (See ACT, April 2006.)

The Sept. 8 committee reports focus on the intelligence community. The panel did not release three other reports examining other executive branch offices. While the committee maintains it will issue the additional reports, no date has yet been set for this. One of the reports would compare U.S. officials’ public statements regarding Iraq’s WMD and terrorist-related activities with the available intelligence. The others will evaluate U.S. pre-invasion intelligence about the likely postwar conditions in Iraq and “intelligence activities” conducted by officials from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

The Sept. 8 committee reports concentrate mainly on an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which judged that Baghdad possessed chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. An NIE is supposed to be the intelligence community’s most authoritative assessment of a given subject. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Iraqi Weapons: Predictions vs. Results

Largely recapitulating information contained in previous reports, the report comparing intelligence before and after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq reiterates that, during the 1990s, Iraq had destroyed its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

The CIA retrospective described in the report concluded that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein chose to withhold information about Baghdad’s illicit weapons programs from UN inspectors who began work in the country after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But in a reaction to “unexpectedly thorough inspections,” Iraq later destroyed large amounts of “undeclared weapons and related materials” without the presence of the inspectors.

Baghdad decided to cooperate with the inspectors in 1995 following the defection of the Iraqi leader’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel. According to the report, Iraq gave relevant documentation to the inspectors “in a genuine attempt to come clean on programs, albeit while attempting to save face,” apparently by blaming Kamel for concealing the documents.

Iraq believed at the time that this cooperation “would gain favor with the UN.” However, Baghdad’s disclosure instead validated the international community’s suspicions that the country had misled the inspectors, suspicions that “resulted in more intrusive inspections,” the committee report says. The UN’s reaction led Hussein to believe that WMD allegations by the United States and other countries were being used “as a pretext for regime change” in Iraq, according to the CIA retrospective.

Baghdad subsequently stopped cooperating with the inspectors, who were withdrawn in December 1998.

Apparently questioning a widely articulated theory, the CIA retrospective also notes that there is no evidence indicating that Hussein made “a concerted effort to maintain the illusion of WMD for the benefit of local adversaries,” such as Iran. Iraq had only a general “sense of the need to project power and military might,” the retrospective adds.

INC’s Role

The report evaluating the intelligence community’s use of information gathered from Iraqi exiles concludes that it used “false information from INC-affiliated sources.”

The 2002 NIE obtained data from two such sources. For example, the NIE contained a description, based on one source, of a new facility suspected of being part of a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The ISG later investigated the site but found no evidence that it had been “involved in nuclear-related work,” the intelligence panel report says. Subsequent intelligence community investigations have called into question the source’s credibility. According to the report, the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) believe that the source never actually visited the facility he described, despite his claims to the contrary. Some intelligence officials believe that the defector “may have been provided with information about the facility by someone else.”

False information from an INC-associated source was also used to corroborate the NIE’s contention that Iraq possessed mobile facilities for producing biological weapons agents, the report says.

Additionally, the DIA continued to issue reports from INC-associated sources after the NIE was published. For example, a November report stated that, according to a member of the Iraqi opposition, Iraq had been smuggling chemical and biological weapons to Syria. A January 2003 report cited a source who claimed that Iraq had conducted “unspecified nuclear activity” at two facilities during the spring of 2002.

The Senate report only discusses information that the INC provided to the intelligence community and does not address widespread concerns that U.S. policymakers may have used INC intelligence obtained through other channels. Indeed, an additional view authored by several Democratic senators cites a June 2002 memorandum from the INC to the Senate Appropriations Committee that identified officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Vice President as recipients of INC-provided intelligence.

The senators also point out that a September 2002 public White House document cited information from an INC-affiliated defector to support a claim that Iraq had chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

 

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released two reports Sept. 8 as part of the second phase of its inquiry into pre-war U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq’s suspected chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

One report compares pre-war U.S. intelligence assessments with information gathered following the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The other report evaluates the intelligence community’s use of information obtained from individuals associated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a group comprised of Iraqi exiles who opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime. (Continue)

Iraq Strives to Join Chemical Weapons Pact

Paul Kerr

More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Baghdad is apparently making progress in its efforts to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). But the fate of the UN organization charged with dismantling Iraq’s chemical weapons program has yet to be determined.

On May 30, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) provided Iraq with documentation about the country’s past chemical weapons programs in order to help the country accede to the CWC. Countries who wish to accede to the convention are required to provide documentation of any past chemical weapons programs within 30 days after the convention enters into force for that country. Iraq had chemical weapons prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War but later destroyed them and did not revive the program. (See ACT, November 2004.)

Iraq has not yet signed the convention, but in 2004 it declared its intention to do so and accede once a permanent government was in place. The convention prohibits the production and stockpiling of chemical weapons. To advance their efforts, Iraqi officials have been working with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), participating in two implementation training workshops during the past year. The OPCW verifies compliance with the CWC.

After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the UN Security Council tasked the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), which UNMOVIC later succeeded, with verifying and supervising the destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles exceeding UN-permitted ranges. As part of its disarmament requirements, Iraq was required to provide the inspectors with complete disclosures of its illicit weapons programs. The United Nations withdrew the inspectors in December 1998, but they returned in November 2002 with Iraq’s consent. (See ACT, December 2002.)

According to a May 30 UNMOVIC report, Samir Al-Sumaida’ie, Iraq’s permanent representative to the Security Council, requested UNMOVIC’s assistance in an April 7 letter to acting Executive Chairman Demetrius Perricos. Al-Sumaida’ie asked the commission to provide Baghdad with the “full, final and complete disclosure” of its chemical weapons program. UNMOVIC did so based on an “updated” version of the declaration, which Iraq had submitted to the United Nations in December 2002.

UNMOVIC Sits Tight

As Iraq seeks to accede to the CWC, it is trying to persuade the Security Council to end UNMOVIC’s role in Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated during a June 15 Security Council meeting that the United Nations should “review” UNMOVIC’s mandate.

Radio Free Europe reported in May that, according to a statement from Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, Baghdad is willing to allow UNMOVIC to “confirm” that Iraq does not have illicit weapons or related programs. Yet, Iraq would not allow the inspectors to work indefinitely, the statement said.

The Security Council, however, appears no closer to determining the commission’s fate.

A UNMOVIC official told Arms Control Today June 20 that some council members have still not resolved their differences over what, if any, role UNMOVIC should play in the future. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The inspectors left Iraq just before the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion and have not since been able to conduct in-country inspections.

Although the council adopted a resolution shortly after the invasion stating its intention to “revisit” UNMOVIC’s mandate, it has not yet done so.

Lingering Uncertainties

The May 30 UNMOVIC report also contains a detailed description of Iraq’s previous chemical weapons program and observes that “a number of issues…remain unresolved.” The report states that although “there is a high degree of confidence” that Iraq’s chemical weapons were destroyed, it is possible that some weapons remain in the country.

The inspectors successfully dismantled the program, but they were not able to account fully for the chemical weapons agents and munitions that Iraq claimed to have produced. This uncertainty resulted from several factors, including the insufficient records provided by the Iraqi regime, the regime’s decision to destroy some of its weapons without the presence of UN inspectors, and the Iraqi military’s inadvertent mixing of chemical munitions with conventional munitions during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. (See ACT, April 2004.)

Charles Duelfer, the special adviser to the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), reported in 2005 that Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces will likely continue to discover chemical weapons left over from Iraq’s pre-1991 stocks. Such weapons, however, “do not pose a militarily significant threat” because the chemical agents and munitions have degraded, he added. The ISG was the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for prohibited Iraqi weapons. (See ACT, June 2005.)

A National Ground Intelligence Center report made public June 21 states that coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 munitions containing degraded chemical weapons agents. The report cautions that chemical weapons agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

A recently released CIA report notes that terrorists and insurgents had been attempting to acquire or develop chemical weapons agents for use against coalition troops in Iraq. None of these attempts were successful, says the report, which analyzed 2004 data.

Duelfer’s report said that since 2003, coalition forces in Iraq have been attacked twice with chemical weapons. But the report generally downplayed the risk of such attacks.

 

More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Baghdad is apparently making progress in its efforts to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). But the fate of the UN organization charged with dismantling Iraq’s chemical weapons program has yet to be determined. (Continue)

Pentagon Details Hussein's Pre-Invasion Efforts

Matt Dupuis

A Pentagon report released March 24 offers new insights into Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s pre-war actions related to his country’s then-suspected nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and the response of the United States and its allies.

The Iraqi Perspective Project, based on captured Iraqi government documents and interviews with former Iraqi officials, reiterates some findings of previous U.S. government reports (see ACT, November 2004), but provides a more detailed analysis of Hussein’s leadership style, strategic calculations, and pre-war diplomatic maneuverings prior to the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

It shows that Hussein made late efforts to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors when they returned to Iraq in late 2002 after a four-year absence but that these attempts were wrongly dismissed by Western intelligence agencies because of Iraq’s past record of obfuscation. The report, like other post-war U.S. reports, concludes that Hussein was intent on restarting suspected weapons programs once sanctions were eventually lifted.

The report states that, in the decade after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Hussein had often pursued a strategy of “purposeful ambiguity” regarding his real and purported arsenals, a deceptive tactic aimed at deterring external threats from Israel and Iran as well as internal threats such as coups.

But after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Hussein began to shift course, fearing that the United States would turn against his regime. He sought to avoid provocative actions. As pressure mounted on Baghdad in late 2002, he ordered Iraqi officers to cooperate fully with UN weapons inspectors, “thus denying President George W. Bush and the Americans any excuse for starting a new conflict.” The strategy was also aimed at “solidifying the promise of more substantial French and Russian efforts on Iraq’s behalf,” to forestall UN support for military action, according to the report.

At times, however, the strategy of cooperation appeared not only to fail but to backfire because of preconceptions created by Hussein’s record. The report, for example, cites an episode related to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the UN General Assembly. (See ACT, March 2003.) Arguing that Iraq was concealing illicit weapons, Powell cited an intercepted conversation between two Iraqi Republican Guard Corps commanders, in which one commanded the other to “remove” the listing of “nerve agents…wherever it comes up,” as proof of Iraqi obstruction of the inspections process. But the report says that Powell and U.S. intelligence agencies had reached an erroneous conclusion in assuming that “military actions to remove lingering traces of weapons fielded in the past” were “attempts to conceal current [weapons of mass destruction (WMD)] assets or operations.”

More broadly, the report concluded that “when it came to WMD, Hussein was simultaneously attempting to deceive one audience that they were gone and another that they still had them,” putting himself into a “diplomatic and propaganda Catch 22.”

Captured documents reveal that Hussein kept many of his closest advisers in the dark about the state of Iraq’s weaponry for fear of possible coup attempts and an attack from Israel. If it was revealed that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, “it would not only show Israel that Iraq did not have [weapons of mass destruction] but might actually encourage” Israel to attack, Hussein and other Iraqi officials believed. Hussein used chemical weapons in his successful efforts to crush rebellions by the Kurds in the 1980s and Shiites in the 1990s, as well as in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. (See ACT, January/February 2006.)

The report notes that, based on Iraq’s previous stockpiles, the plausibility of secret and compartmentalized prohibited weapons programs, and Western governments’ public assessments, “a number of senior Iraqi officials continued to believe it possible…that Iraq still possessed a WMD capability hidden away somewhere.” But the report notes that the same officials denied having any “direct knowledge” of these weapons.

 

Three Years Later, Iraq Investigations Continue

Paul Kerr

More than three years after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, several issues concerning Iraq’s illicit weapons programs remain unresolved. The congressional intelligence committees continue to review different aspects of U.S. pre-war intelligence concerning Iraq’s suspected nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs as well as how the information was used by officials. Meanwhile, the fate of the UN inspections commission tasked with overseeing Iraq’s disarmament remains uncertain.

Congress

Senate Investigates…

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to be making some progress in completing the second phase of its investigation of pre-war U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs. (See ACT , January/February 2006.)

The committee issued a report in July 2004 after completing the investigation’s first phase, which analyzed the intelligence community’s performance in assessing Iraq’s suspected illicit weapon programs. (See ACT, September 2004.) Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) publicly pledged in early 2005 to complete the investigation’s second phase, which concerns Bush administration officials’ role in obtaining and using intelligence on Iraq.

Accusing Roberts of stalling the investigation, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) forced debate on the matter in November 2005 by invoking a rarely used rule to halt Senate operations and bring the body into closed session. The two sides then formed a task force to develop a plan for completing the investigation.

Despite these efforts, committee members do not appear to have agreed on a plan to complete the investigation. Charging that the investigation is still proceeding too slowly, Reid stated March 3 that the committee has yet to interview “key” administration officials or review some essential documents.

Nevertheless, a committee spokesperson told Arms Control Today March 27 that the committee plans to adhere to a timetable that Roberts proposed March 14 for completing portions of the investigation by month’s end. The committee is to complete drafts summarizing its examination of three issues: the intelligence community’s pre-war assessments about the likely conditions in post-war Iraq, how pre-war intelligence assessments regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs compare with the results of postwar investigations, and the intelligence community’s use of intelligence provided by Iraqi exiles.

This timetable also sets April 5 as the deadline for a “preliminary draft” of a report evaluating the extent to which administration officials’ pre-war statements regarding Iraq’s suspected weapons programs and connections to the al Qaeda terrorist network were supported by the available intelligence.

The spokesperson did not anticipate that the committee would issue any public reports before late April.

Roberts did not set a date for completing work on one of the most controversial issues that the panel has been investigating: the role of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) in Iraq-related intelligence activities. Roberts has indicated that the committee will not work on the issue because the Department of Defense inspector general is currently investigating the matter.

Responding to the proposal, committee Vice Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), said he welcomed Roberts’ “sense of urgency” in finally completing the investigation but added that considerable work remains, The Los Angeles Times reported March 15.

The precise nature of the dispute is unclear, but Democrats reportedly want to conduct a more thorough investigation by, for example, interviewing a larger number of administration officials. Additionally, Roberts indicated that Rockefeller wants reports on all aspects of the investigation sections to be released “simultaneously.”

…So Does the House

Shortly after the November Senate shutdown, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a plan for restarting that panel’s similar investigation. Committee chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) rejected the proposal, arguing that such an investigation would be “redundant” with the Senate’s inquiry, the Associated Press reported.

The House investigation ended without public acknowledgement shortly after the committee’s leaders sent a September 2003 letter to CIA director George Tenet criticizing the intelligence community’s performance with respect to Iraq WMD issues. Harman stated in November that committee Republicans “shut down” the investigation.

Despite a June 2003 statement from Harman and then- Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Porter Goss (R-Fla.), the committee has never issued an unclassified summary of its findings.

Although the committee is not conducting a formal investigation of the Iraq issue, at least some committee staff members have investigated claims suggesting that Iraq hid or moved its prohibited weapons or related material.

Committee spokesperson Jamal Ware told the New York Sun Feb. 3 that Hoekstra “very much believes” that there are unanswered questions about the fate of Iraq’s illicit weapons, including the possibility that they were transferred to another country. Ware did not name any specific countries, but Hoekstra identified Syria as a possible candidate during a Feb. 7 interview on FOX News.

Ware told Arms Control Today March 22 that individual staff members have investigated the “veracity” of some of the claims. A few have come from Georges Sada, a former Iraqi general, who claims in a recent book, Saddam’s Secrets, that Iraq transferred WMD or related material to Syria.

Ware said that the committee also has had translations made of recordings of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein discussing illicit weapons issues. There are no plans to release a report on the committee’s findings, he added.

Hoekstra has also championed the public release of Iraqi documents captured after the invasion, arguing that allowing the public to review them will accelerate the process of analyzing their contents. The United States has more than two million documents and “hours of recorded conversations,” Hoekstra stated Feb. 13. The office of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte began releasing the documents March 16 but cautioned that the government “has made no determination regarding” their accuracy or authenticity.

None of this material appears to contradict the results of the Iraq Survey Group’s (ISG) investigation. The ISG, which was charged with coordinating the U.S.-led post-invasion weapons search, concluded that Iraq had no illicit weapons at the time of the invasion and found no evidence to substantiate reports suggesting that WMD-related materials had been transferred to Syria. (See ACT, June 2005.)

Whither UNMOVIC?

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council continues to debate the future of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Com mission (UNMOVIC).

Asked about a March 7 briefing from acting UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Demetrius Perricos to the council, an official told Arms Control Today that “there is a growing consensus” among council members “to wrap things up.” But certain countries, particularly the United States and Russia, continue to disagree about what, if any, role the commission should play in the future.

UN Security Council Resolution 687, which was adopted after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, tasked the UN Special Commission (UN SCOM) and later UNMOVIC with verifying and supervising the destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles exceeding UN-permitted ranges. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had a comparable role for Iraq’s nuclear weapons programs. The United Nations withdrew all of its inspectors in December 1998, but they returned in November 2002 with Iraq’s consent.

UNMOVIC inspectors have not been able to carry out on-the-ground inspections since leaving Iraq just before the March 2003 invasion.

The council adopted a resolution after the invasion stating its intention to “revisit” UNMOVIC’s mandate but has not yet done so.

Even establishing criteria for whether Iraq has met its disarmament obligations under the appropriate Security Council resolutions could well be complicated. Several relevant resolutions remain in force, and the Security Council has taken no action on the matter. (See ACT, April 2005.)

Russia wants a final report from UNMOVIC before the commission is disbanded. In a Feb. 20 interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued that the council cannot reach any conclusions about the status of Iraq’s former WMD programs based on the ISG report. The commission should instead analyze work done by the ISG, integrate the data with UNMOVIC’s previous findings, and submit its conclusions to the Security Council, he said.

Arguing that the unstable security situation in Iraq has increased the risk that Iraqi weapons or related material could fall into the hands of other countries or terrorist organizations, Lavrov also recommended that UNMOVIC implement measures to mitigate this risk. Iraq currently lacks even “elementary” safeguards, he said, citing the discovery of Iraqi weapons-related materials outside the country.

The fate of unsecured Iraqi weapons materials has been an issue of ongoing concern. Both UNMOVIC and the IAEA have previously issued reports stating that Iraqi WMD sites had been destroyed and that weapons-related equipment had disappeared.

Lavrov also said Feb. 20 that the council should examine the role of long-term monitoring in Iraq. UNSCOM and UNMOVIC were tasked with developing a long-term monitoring plan to thwart Iraq’s ability to reconstitute its illicit weapons programs. Lavrov also left open the possibility that UNMOVIC could conduct future inspections in Iraq.

On a related note, former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia Paul Pillar reportedly told a Washington audience March 9 that pre-invasion intelligence assessments judged that, even if Hussein were overthrown, Iraq would likely try to develop weapons of mass destruction in order to deter potential threats from regional powers such as Iran and Israel.

Washington does not share Moscow’s enthusiasm for a final re port. Richard Grenell, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the UN, told the New York Sun Feb. 7 that the Bush administration is “not sure that UNMOVIC needs to prepare a final report” or that the Security Council needs to “revisit the previous UNMOVIC mandate.” Additionally, John Bolton, U.S permanent representative to the UN, said that the United States is “eager” to abolish UNMOVIC, the Ku wait News Agency reported March 16.

Other members agree that UNMOVIC’s mission should end but want to devise a way to preserve the commission’s expertise, said an other UNMOVIC official.

Russia, in addition to pushing for the inspection body’s continued role in the country, wants Iraq to conclude an additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention to provide additional assurances that Iraq’s weapons-related materials are secure, Lavrov said.

An IAEA spokesperson told Arms Control Today March 22 that the agency has been discussing the conclusion of an additional protocol with Iraqi representatives. IAEA safeguards agreements allow the IAEA to monitor a nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty state-party’s nuclear activities and facilities to ensure they are not used for military purposes. Additional protocols are voluntary measures that augment the IAEA’s investigative authority.

 

Report Confirms Iraq Used Sarin in 1991

Michael Nguyen

U.S. investigators have confirmed that Iraq used chemical weapons to quash a Shiite uprising after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The information was uncovered by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the task force established following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to determine the state of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs, but was little noticed when the ISG issued its final three-volume report in September 2004.

The report marked the first outside confirmation that the regime had used chemical weapons to quell a growing 1991 insurgency. At the time, much of Iraq was in open revolt, the report notes, and the Iraqi regime was deeply shaken by the fall of Karbala to Shiite rebels. The report said the use of chemical weapons was an example of the “dire nature of the situation” and the regime’s “faith in ‘special weapons’” that it would consider using chemical weapons while coalition forces were still in Iraq.

Still, the scale of nerve weapon use by the Hussein regime against the Shiites in southern Iraq appears to be much smaller than a March 1988 chemical weapons attack against Kurds in northern Iraq or the regime’s use of chemical weapons during an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s. Post-Gulf War restrictions imposed on Iraq after its defeat by a U.S.-led coalition may have limited the effectiveness of the attacks and prevented greater casualties, the report said.

The ISG uncovered the incident through interviews with several members of the Iraqi chemical weapons program. But public attention focused on the report’s broader conclusions that Iraq had destroyed its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, as well as eliminated its nuclear weapons program by the time of the invasion. (See ACT, November 2004.)

Hussein Kamel, a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and then-head of the Military Industrial Commission, gave the order to ready chemical munitions for use. According to the report, Kamel’s first chemical agent choice was VX, a nerve agent. When informed that there was no VX available, the Iraqis selected sarin, another nerve agent, declining to use mustard gas because it was easily detectable.

Technicians from the Muthanna State Establishment (MSE), Iraq’s primary chemical weapons research, development, and production facility, mixed sarin components in R-400 aerial bombs at the Tamuz air base on March 7. MI-8 helicopters from nearby bases were armed with the R-400s and flew sorties against Shiite rebels near Karbala. One account from a senior official suggests that the helicopters dropped 10-20 sarin-filled bombs, although another account suggests that the total may have been as high as 32.

Although the report notes that Iraq had used the MI-8 helicopter in the 1980s to drop chemical munitions during the Iraq-Iran War, the R-400—an aerial bomb of Iraqi design—did not enter service until 1990. Originally designed for low-altitude, high-speed delivery of chemical and biological weapons by Iraq’s fighter aircraft, the R-400s “most likely did not activate properly when dropped from a slow moving helicopter,” according to the report. Cease-fire restrictions negotiated by the U.S.-led coalition at Safwan just days earlier prohibited Iraq from flying fixed-wing aircraft, although Iraq convinced the coalition to allow it to continue flying helicopters, supposedly to transport Iraqi officials.

Following an angry call to a senior chemical weapons official about the failure of the initial helicopter sorties, technicians at MSE filled several large aerial bombs with tear gas. According to the report, helicopters dropped up to 200 of these bombs on rebel targets near Karbala and Najaf. The report also notes that Iraq brought several trailers with mustard-filled aerial bombs to the base as well, although the bombs were never unloaded or used.

Each R-400 aerial bomb can hold approximately 90 liters of chemical agent, and its effective use would have probably caused substantial casualties, but it is not clear how many casualties can be attributed to the sarin use.

Ewen Buchanan, spokesperson for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) said that the selection and bungled use of the sarin-filled R-400s made some sense from the regime’s perspective. “As the Iraqis explained to me, ‘beggars can’t be choosers,’ and the R-400s were likely what was available at the time,” he said, noting that UNMOVIC had not uncovered this incident during its investigation. “It was probably more important to use some kind of chemical weapon for its psychological effects on the enemy.”

By contrast, in the March 1988 attack, Iraq was free to use its full chemical weapons arsenal. Iraq used mustard gas, tabun, VX, and sarin against Kurds in Halabja in northern Iraq. About 5,000 deaths are directly attributable to the chemical weapons used, and another 10,000 people were blinded, maimed, or disfigured. The Iraqi Special Tribunal, established by the provisional Iraqi government in 2003 to try war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Ba`ath Party’s reign, has been investigating the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds. The body will be responsible for the trials of Saddam Hussein and Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as “Chemical Ali,” the general who allegedly ordered the use of chemical weapons.

 

Senate Iraq Intel Probe Stalls Again

Paul Kerr

Despite a November pledge, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has not yet agreed on a plan to complete a second phase of its investigation into pre-war intelligence on Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) publicly pledged in early 2005 to complete the investigation’s second phase, but Democrats have complained that the investigation is proceeding too slowly.

The investigation’s second phase concerns Bush administration officials’ role in gathering and using intelligence on Iraq. For example, the committee has begun to examine whether then-Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, working with other administration officials, obtained and analyzed intelligence outside normal channels. The panel has also been investigating whether administration officials’ pre-war statements regarding Iraq’s suspected weapons programs were supported by the available intelligence. (See ACT, December 2005.)

The committee issued a report in July 2004 after completing the investigation’s first phase, which analyzed the intelligence community’s performance in assessing Iraq’s suspected illicit weapon programs. (See ACT, September 2004.)

In an effort to accelerate the languishing investigation, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) forced debate on the matter in November by invoking a rarely used rule to halt Senate operations and bring the body into closed session. The two sides then formed a six-member, bipartisan task force to develop a plan for completing the investigation.

But according to a Dec. 13 letter from Reid and Assistant Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin ( Ill.) to the Senate Republican leadership, the task force “has not reached a bipartisan agreement on a timetable and schedule for completion.” Consequently, “critical questions remain about the committee’s progress on its investigation, its timeline for completing that investigation, and what remaining steps need to be taken to ensure a prompt, thorough, and complete review,” the letter added.

Later that day, Roberts stated that Reid’s characterization of the investigation is inaccurate, adding that Reid would be “pleasantly surprised” by the committee’s progress. Roberts, however, provided no specifics. The committee met Dec. 15 behind closed doors, but whether any progress was made is unclear.

Details of the dispute regarding the investigation are also unclear. But a Dec. 14 letter from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) indicated that it is “difficult to determine the endgame for the Phase II report” because the Department of Defense inspector general is currently investigating Feith’s intelligence activities.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman told reporters Dec. 2 that Roberts requested the Pentagon investigation because of persisting allegations that Feith had acted inappropriately. Roberts, who requested the investigation in September 2005, said that the committee had found no evidence of impropriety, Edelman added.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in November that Roberts had assured Democrats that committee members will be able to look at “other aspects” of the Feith matter after receiving the Pentagon’s report.

 

Iraq Intel Back in Senate Spotlight

Paul Kerr

Under pressure from Democrats, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is set to jump-start the languishing second phase of its investigation into pre-war U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs. This phase is supposed to examine the role of Bush administration officials in gathering and using this intelligence, an issue that has not yet been formally investigated.

The committee issued a report in July 2004 after completing the first phase of its investigation, which examined the intelligence community’s assessments of Baghdad’s suspected weapons programs. The second, more politically controversial phase was delayed until after the 2004 presidential election. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) publicly pledged this spring to complete the investigation, and Republican and Democratic committee staff members told Arms Control Today in March that work on the investigation was ongoing, although there were several evident areas of disagreement. (See ACT, April 2005.) But Democrats argue the committee is proceeding far too slowly and has made minimal progress.

In order to focus attention on the stalled probe, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Nov. 1 invoked a rarely used rule that allows the minority party to halt Senate deliberations and bring the body into closed session. The two sides agreed that same day to appoint a six-member, bipartisan task force to sketch out a plan for completing the investigation.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 17 that the two sides have drafted a schedule for the second phase but have not yet set a date for completing it. The task force also has not agreed on several ground rules concerning such matters as requesting documents from the executive branch and interviewing administration officials, The Washington Post reported.

The panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W.V.), said in a Nov. 7 statement that the committee should be able to subpoena both documents and officials from the White House, the Office of the Vice President, and the Department of Defense. Rockefeller had accused the administration Nov. 1 of withholding requested documents from the committee.

The Democrats took action shortly after a grand jury Oct. 28 indicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. Libby is accused of having made false statements both to the grand jury and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the course of an investigation to determine whether administration officials disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA officer and wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Wilson had argued publicly that the Bush administration had misled the public in stating repeatedly that Iraq had attempted to obtain lightly processed uranium from Niger, a claim that was disputed before the war. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Past Investigations

Bush administration officials claimed before the invasion that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and had an active nuclear weapons program. But UN weapons inspectors who had been working in Iraq since November 2002 reported prior to the invasion that they had not found any evidence that Iraq either had illicit weapons stockpiles or had reconstituted its related programs.

A post-invasion investigation by the Iraq Survey Group, the task force charged with coordinating the U.S.-led search for Iraqi prohibited weapons, confirmed that the administration’s pre-war claims had been false. (See ACT, March 2005.)

Administration officials continue to attribute their statements to inaccurate intelligence, usually citing an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which stated that Baghdad possessed chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. An NIE is supposed to be the intelligence community’s most authoritative assessment of a given subject.

Indeed, the July Senate Intelligence Committee report, as well as a March report from the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, harshly criticized the intelligence community’s failure to describe Iraq’s suspected weapons programs accurately. These reports blamed such factors as a shortage of spies in Iraq and poor tradecraft for the community’s botched assessments. (See ACT, May 2005.)

However, competing intelligence priorities also played a role, according to a recently declassified July 2004 report from a group headed by former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Richard Kerr. “Technical [intelligence] collection priorities emphasized coverage of the Iraqi air defense system in southern Iraq in support of U.S. [pre-invasion] military operations and prevented collection on other important targets in Iraq,” the report says, adding that Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs “received higher priority…until late 2002.” The CIA had tasked the Kerr group with reviewing the agency’s performance.

The Senate and commission reports have probed whether pressure from policymakers may have influenced intelligence reporting. For example, the commission said its members “found no evidence” that intelligence had been “politicized” but added that “intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom.”

But Robert Hutchings, chairman of the National Intelligence Council from February 2003 until the end of January 2005, offered a different view during a May 6 interview with Senate Foreign Relations committee staff. Repeatedly pushing analysts to confirm a particular set of judgments, he said, has “the effect of politicizing intelligence, because the so-called ‘correct answer’ becomes all too clear.” Both the Senate and commission reports noted that some policymakers repeatedly tasked intelligence analysts with reviewing intelligence assessments about Iraq.

Such politicization “creates a climate of intimidation and a culture of conformity that is damaging,” Hutchings said.

A July 2002 British memorandum, which summarizes a meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair with top advisers and was made public last May, has also fueled public suspicions about the administration’s pre-invasion Iraq policies.

According to the memorandum, British Secret Intelligence Service chief John Scarlett, who had recently returned from Washington, said that President George W. Bush intended to overthrow the Iraqi regime “justified by” its suspected prohibited weapons programs and support for terrorists. “[T]he intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” Scarlett said.

The Second Phase

Democrats want the intelligence committee to investigate whether information obtained and analyzed outside traditional intelligence channels influenced White House judgments about Iraq. For example, Rockefeller in his Nov. 7 statement said that the committee needs to interview such officials as Libby and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith to determine whether they directly received intelligence from Iraqi exiles.

Additionally, Democrats suspect Feith and his colleagues of using this information, along with raw U.S. intelligence reports, to produce inaccurate assessments of Iraq’s suspected weapons and terrorist connections. For example, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, indicated in a Sept. 22 letter to the Pentagon’s inspector general that a Defense Department briefing to the White House may have contained statements “that were not supported by the available intelligence,” such as the assessment that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist organization “had a shared interest and pursuit of” weapons of mass destruction.

The committee may not yet be able to investigate Feith’s office, however. Responding to a September request from Roberts, the Pentagon’s inspector general has agreed to investigate whether Feith was involved in inappropriate intelligence activities, the Associated Press reported Nov. 18. Levin told reporters the same day that Roberts has given his “assurance” that committee members will “be able to look at any other aspects that we want to” after receiving the report.

The panel’s previous report also said it would examine such issues as whether policymakers’ public statements concerning the Iraqi threat were supported by intelligence. Bush administration officials, including the president, made some public statements that appeared not to be fully supported by the NIE, which contained numerous qualifiers and caveats.

Rockefeller said that the committee has a list of statements from various U.S. officials but added that comparing these statements with intelligence community publications is insufficient for determining whether administration claims were “substantiated by the intelligence.” Such determinations will “require analysis and context,” which may necessitate obtaining documents and interviewing administration officials, he said.

 

Prewar Nuclear Myths and Realities: Chronology of Bush Administration Claims that Iraq Attempted to Obtain Uranium from Niger

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For Immediate Release: November 21, 2005

 

Media contacts: Paul Kerr, Research Analyst (202) 463-8270 x102; Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director (202) 463-8270 x107

One of the chief arguments used by the Bush administration to justify the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. For instance, only three days before U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that Iraq had "reconstituted nuclear weapons." Central to the administration's argument were erroneous claims that Iraq had recently attempted to obtain lightly-processed uranium, or "yellowcake," from Africa and that it had attempted to acquire specialized aluminum tubes as part of a uranium enrichment program to produce fissile material, which is necessary for making nuclear weapons.

The claim regarding the uranium deal remains contentious to this day because President George W. Bush cited it in his January 28, 2003 State of the Union Address and because officials in the White House and the Office of Vice President Cheney waged a public campaign to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who publicly challenged the uranium claim in the summer of 2003.

Contrary to White House assertions that the "intelligence was all wrong," as early as a year before the invasion U.S. intelligence assessments and senior U.S. officials disagreed about the reliability of the information supporting the main nuclear weapons-related claims.

Furthermore, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors working on the ground in Iraq from November 2002 until March of 2003 found no evidence that Baghdad had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. The evidence from the field should have made it clear that UN inspections and sanctions had constrained Saddam's unconventional arsenal and led the administration to reevaluate its own intelligence assessment. But it did not.

The chronology of events involving the internal intelligence assessments and international inspections (see <http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/IraqUraniumClaim.asp>) clearly demonstrates that senior Bush administration officials disregarded intelligence assessments that did not support the claim that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program and that the administration did not provide an accurate picture of the military threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq to Congress or to the American people.

As Greg Thielmann, a former senior official in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, described the situation at a July 2003 ACA press briefing, "Some of the fault lies with the performance of the intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way senior officials misused the information they were provided."

Now, the administration's handling of the uranium and other pre-war intelligence regarding Iraq is the subject of the delayed, "second phase" investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).

"Among other issues, the SSCI investigation should examine who in the White House and other agencies chose to put forward dubious claims about Iraqi attempts to secure uranium from Africa despite clear warnings from the CIA Director and other members of the intelligence community that such claims were not reliable," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

"It is also essential that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigate why Bush administration officials also failed to take into consideration the weapons intelligence findings and assessments of the IAEA and UN inspectors working in Iraq, which strongly repudiated the nuclear program reconstitution claim, as well as the Bush administration's faulty claim that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs," Kimball urged.

Prior to the March 2003 invasion, ACA publicly argued that "continued, tough inspections can provide the necessary confidence that Iraq cannot reconstitute militarily significant chemical, biological, or nuclear capabilities and help produce more definitive findings to help Security Council members bridge their differences" about military action.

"Intelligence is meant to inform government decision-making, not to be invoked or discarded selectively to justify predetermined political decisions," Kimball concluded.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.

 

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